This week, I took a step back in time by downloading and, despite my dearth of technological knowledge, managing to play an old computer game.
It is a soccer game, but the teams and players are from when I was 17-years old and only just learning how big the sport is in the world.
I imagine others get the same feeling when they load up a football or basketball game from 1998 that occupied their time outside of school, and possibly their minds during.
The nostalgia trip has been fantastic. Clearly I think of that time as better because it was all so new. Absorbing soccer now doesn't seem as good, even with the leaps and bounds that have come with later versions of this video game, because I'm in the middle of creating memories instead of reminiscing.
But it made me think: is there actually a valid argument that sports were better "back in the day?"
Professional basketball provides another example. In the late 1980s, the Detroit Pistons took over as the "Bad Boys." Isiah Thomas, Dennis Rodman, Bill Laimbeer; they combined skill with a physical, sometimes violent, nature that intimidated and conquered.
If you hear from or read comments by people involved in that era, the phrase "couldn't do that today" comes up a lot. It's this idea of working slightly outside of the rules that earned the Bad Boys plenty of critics back then and a sort of mystique today.
It's the same in other sports. The Oakland Raiders were fearsome unit of mean, tough players. Today, hard hits in the NFL are on their way out.
Hockey is a slightly different situation, but even that sport has had its fair share of cleaning up. Anymore, defenders are more feared for their ability to stop attackers and less so for their tendency to knock your head off.
Even baseball is different. Most likely because of widespread steroid use, the hitting was bigger and better throughout the 1970s, 80s, and 90s.
A friend of mine thinks the league should just allow juicing for the benefit of fans and entertainment. I completely disagree, but he has a valid point.
Sports today have either achieved or are working toward a cleaner version of themselves. It's somewhat fan driven; mostly, it's about sponsors and players' unions realizing that long-term effects on competitors can leave a nasty mark on the league.
Things like concussions are talked about much more. Regardless of whether or not fans agree with new measures to limit head injuries, they will agree that player safety is important. It's just the natural human reaction.
So we get cleaner versions of the sport, which in many ways is good. But there's just something about the way it used to be. It felt less tampered with, for better or for worse, and subsequently, more real.
Then again, maybe it's just like me and the video game. Maybe yesterday seems better because we don't realize how truly great today is.
Perspective means everything.